House of Commons - Explanatory Note
European Union Bill - continued          House of Commons

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Part 2 of Schedule 2: Specific modifications of enactments other than the 1972 Act

56.     Part 2 of Schedule 2 makes a number of specific amendments to primary legislation. These amendments are technical in nature and reflect the differences in terminology and numbering of articles between the existing Treaty on European Union and Community Treaties and the Constitutional Treaty.

Part 3 of Schedule 2: Modifications of general application

57.     Part 3 of Schedule 2 makes a number of general modifications to deal with commonly occurring phrases and references in existing domestic law based on the Community Treaties. It applies to primary and secondary legislation. The amendments are technical in nature. They deal with terms such as "the Communities", "Community law", the "Community Treaties", "Community institutions", "the European Court", "Community instruments", and "Community obligation". Paragraph 34 includes a general provision allowing existing law to be construed after the entry into force of the Constitutional Treaty in such a way as necessary to achieve the continuity of law and legal and administrative procedures provided for by Article IV-438 of the Constitutional Treaty. The amendments made in Part 3 of Schedule 2 are designed to deal with the majority of references based on the Communities in existing legislation and should minimise the need for use of the related powers in clause 4 of the Bill.

Schedule 3: Conduct of the Referendum

Paragraphs 2 and 3: Encouraging voting

58.     Paragraph 2 allows the Electoral Commission to do anything that it thinks is necessary or expedient to encourage voting at the referendum. This could include publicising the referendum and the voting arrangements, encouraging people to turn out, and promoting optional postal voting.

59.     Paragraph 3 gives the Electoral Commission power to direct the counting officers to provide any such information to those entitled to vote that it specifies, including requirements as to the form or manner in which the information is to be sent.

Paragraph 4: Provision of information to voters

60.     Under section 108 of the PPER Act, the Electoral Commission has the power to designate one "permitted participant" (such as a political party or a campaign group) as a campaign representative for each possible outcome of the referendum. The effects of such a designation are outlined in the section titled 'Other relevant legislation' above. But if, for whatever reason, the Electoral Commission does not designate organisations under section 108, paragraph 4 gives the Commission the power to make available to those entitled to vote in the referendum information aimed at promoting awareness about the arguments for each answer to the referendum question.

Paragraph 5: Combination of polls

61.     Paragraph 5 enables an order to be made combining the polls at the referendum with polls for any election or referendum. This is a contingency measure. If the referendum falls to be held on the same day as another referendum or election, the polls could either be held alongside each other under the different rules that apply to each type of poll, or combined by adapting the rules so that they are the same in key ways.

Paragraphs 6 and 7: Payments by Electoral Commission

     62.     Paragraph 6 enables a Minister of the Crown to make an order (after consultation with the Electoral Commission) providing for payment by the Electoral Commission of the charges and expenses of deputies of the Chief Counting Officer and counting officers and their deputies in connection with the referendum. This can include an amount to cover any consequential increase in local authority pension contributions. The order can only be made with the consent of the Treasury. The payments are to be paid out of the Consolidated Fund.

63.     Paragraph 7 provides that the Electoral Commission's expenditure under paragraph 6 must be audited by the Comptroller and Auditor General, and then laid before Parliament.

Paragraph 8: Gibraltar

64.     Paragraph 8 allows a Minister of the Crown to make an order in connection with the holding of the referendum in Gibraltar, after having consulted both the Government of Gibraltar and the Electoral Commission.

65.     The order would enable extension to Gibraltar of the relevant rules on the running of the referendum, including those provided for in the PPER Act or in an order as to the conduct of the referendum made under section 129 of that Act, and appropriate modifications in the light of this.

Paragraphs 9 and 10: Supplementary

66.     These paragraphs set out supplementary matters. Paragraph 9 provides that the power in section 129 of the PPER Act to make orders regulating the conduct of referendums applies in respect of this referendum (as well as generally, in respect of all referendums covered by that Act), despite the fact that the Bill itself includes some provisions relating to the conduct of the referendum.

67.     Paragraph 10 disapplies the requirement in section 126 of the PPER Act for an imprint containing information as to publishers to appear on all referendum material, as far as that material is required to be published under an order regulating the conduct of referendums made under section 129 of the PPER Act: an example being the ballot paper.

Paragraph 11: Orders

68.     Paragraph 11 makes provision in connection with the making of orders under Schedule 3. Except in the case of the Orders to be made under paragraph 6, the exercise of each power is to be subject to the affirmative resolution procedure. This is because it is appropriate that they should be subject to a significant level of Parliamentary scrutiny.

Schedule 4: Repeals

69.     The majority of repeals in this section are of provisions in previous legislation which gave effect to the Community Treaties. As these Treaties will be repealed, the provisions which gave effect to them can also be repealed.


70.     Parts 1 and 2 of the Bill have no direct financial impact on the United Kingdom. Although the Constitutional Treaty restructures the existing Community Treaties, it does not fundamentally change the objectives and activities of the EU and thus will not have major implications for the EU's budget. The Treaty makes no substantive change to the EU's own resources arrangements. Insofar as clauses 2, 4 and 5 of the Bill provide powers for delegated legislation and clause 3 requires statements on subsidiarity, these are activities of a similar nature to those already undertaken in implementation of the existing Treaties. Accordingly public sector manpower implications are minimal.

71.     The main costs of running the referendum will be the costs of implementing and administering the legislation, and will cover counting officers' fees and expenses (who will carry out the same functions as returning officers), the costs of the Electoral Commission, printing, Royal Mail delivery costs etc. The referendum will not lead to any changes in the staff of Government Departments and their agencies or local authorities.


72.     A Regulatory Impact Assessment has been undertaken which concludes that there will be no direct or indirect regulatory burdens on business, charities or the voluntary sector.


73.     Section 19 of the Human Rights Act 1998 requires the Minister in charge of a Bill in either House of Parliament to make a statement, before second reading, about the compatibility of the provisions of the Bill with the Convention rights (as defined by section 1 of that Act). The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs has made the following statement:

     In my view the provisions of the European Union Bill are compatible with the Convention Rights.


74.     Part 3 and Part 4 other than the repeals, providing for the referendum, will enter into force on Royal Assent. Clause 10(4) provides that Parts 1 and 2 and the repeals, which give effect to the Constitutional Treaty, are to be brought into force by order made by a Minister of the Crown. Under clause 10(5) an order may only be made if the majority of the votes cast in the referendum is in favour of the UK approving the Constitutional Treaty.

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Prepared: 24 May 2005